Just over three years from now, all US forces could be out of Iraq, if the Iraqi-US security pact finally comes into force, BBC reported.
It will also give the Iraqi authorities much greater say over what American forces do in the meantime.
With the Iraqi cabinet vote on Sunday, it has passed its first hurdle and now goes to the Iraqi parliament.
It has to be approved by the end of the year, when the UN mandate covering the presence of US and other troops ends.
In effect, this is now a deadline for both sides - for the Americans to get out and the Iraqis to take full responsibility for security.
It has come after months of difficult negotiations between Washington and Baghdad.